There are a number of types of calls that personal injury attorneys receive on a regular basis. Some of the most common questions they hear involve debt collectors and whether or not their methods are legal. The call may go something like this: “My husband was injured at his job and had to have surgery on his shoulder. Insurance covered his time off and the surgical procedure, but I just found out they did not cover the costs of his physical therapy. It has been a year since then, and now debt collectors are bothering us because a bill for over $5,000 is still unpaid. Is this going to affect my credit? What can I do about the situation?”
What many people do not realize is that insurance companies use this trick on a regular basis as a way to save themselves a significant amount of money. They may be pleasant in dealing with the claimant, but they often fail to disclose that they have not covered all of the expenses incurred as a result of the accident. The catch is that when they do not pay, the person who is owed cannot sue the company. So instead, bill collectors go after the injured party. If the case was settled quickly without verification that all bills would be paid, the person is likely to be stuck with them.
While the situation may seem bleak, there is some good news. An attorney can file an official letter stating that the claimant is seeking worker’s compensation benefits. Once this is in place, it becomes illegal for anybody to attempt to collect payments or threaten to hurt a person’s credit. Additionally, there are laws in place to protect Minnesota residents against aggressive and illegal practices commonly used by debt collectors.
In cases like the one described above, there is no logical reason why insurance should not clear any outstanding balance. Lawyers can file a penalty petition with the state compensation commission to offer some motivation to the company to make those payments. The law outlines the amount that they are required to pay, so there should be no dispute regarding the requirement of the petition. In the event that the company does not immediately settle the payment and they continue to refuse to do so, the petition will outline and enforce penalties for their behavior.
The rules outlined here apply to several types of debt, not just medical bills. While the laws differ for business financial shortfalls, people with personal debts such as credit cards, student loans, and bank loans will also benefit from these protections. In circumstances that involve a work related injury, there is no reason for the claimant to pay any amount of the expenses out of their own pocket, not even co-pays.
Worker’s compensation laws can be tricky to navigate at times, but getting the debt collectors off a claimant’s case is a simple matter. It may seem too simple to be true, but the law does in fact provide this protection. Claimants are already dealing with the pain and potential long-term consequences of the injury and filing insurance claims. They should not be expected to put up with harassment and threats from debt collectors because of the sneaky money saving practices of insurance companies.
Doing all of this on your own can be difficult, and the constant badgering about unpaid debts is stressful. So it is generally recommended that people who find themselves in this situation should work with a personal injury attorney with experience in work related injuries and worker’s compensation. If you were injured on the job and debt collectors are hounding you for payment, contact us to schedule an initial consultation of your case.